Starting with the April 2017 release of Power BI Desktop, you can use Quick measures to quickly and easily perform common, powerful calculations. A Quick measure runs a set of DAX commands behind the scenes (you don’t have to write the DAX – it’s done for you) based input you provide in a dialog box, then presents the results for you to use in your report. Best of all, you can see the DAX that’s executed by the Quick measure, and jump-start or expand your own DAX knowledge.

You create Quick measures by right-clicking a field in the Fields well, then selecting Quick measures from the menu that appears. You can also right-click any value in the Values pane of an existing visual (such as the Values field in a Bar chart visual). There are many available categories of calculations, and ways to modify each calculation to fit your needs.

Enable the Quick measures preview

You can try the new Quick measures feature beginning with the April 2017 release of Power BI Desktop. To enable this preview feature, select File > Options and Settings > Options > Preview Features, then select the checkbox beside Quick measures. You'll need to restart Power BI Desktop after you make the selection.

You'll need to restart Power BI Desktop after you make the selection.

Using Quick measures

To create a Quick measure, right-click on a field (any field) in the Fields well in Power BI Desktop and select Quick measure from the menu that appears.

Modeling must be available on the dataset currently loaded in order for Quick measures to be available. As such, live connections (such as a connection to a Power BI service dataset) will not display the Quick measures menu item when the Fields list is right-clicked, with the exception of SSAS live connections.

When using SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) live connections, some Quick measures are available. Power BI Desktop displays only the collection of Quick measures that are supported for the version of SSAS to which the connection is made. So if you are connected to a SSAS live data source, and you do not see certain Quick measures in the list, it's because the SSAS version to which you are connected does not support the DAX measure used to implement that Quick measure.

When selected from the right-click menu, the following Quick measures window appears, allowing you to select the calculation you want, and the fields against which you want to calculation to be run.

When you select the drop-down menu, you're presented with the long list of available Quick measures.

There are five distinct groups of Quick measure calculation types, each with a collection of calculations. Those groups and calculations are the following:

  • Aggregate within a category
    • Average within category
    • Variance within category
    • Max within category
    • Min within category
    • Weighted average per category
  • Filters and baselines
    • Filtered measure
    • Difference from baseline
    • Percentage difference from baseline
    • Totals from new categories
  • Time intelligence
    • Year-to-date total
    • Quarter-to-date total
    • Month-to-date total
    • Year over year change
    • Quarter over quarter change
    • Month-over-month change
    • Rolling average
  • Totals
    • Running total
    • Total for category (filters applied)
    • Total for category (filters not applied)
  • Mathematical operations
    • Addition
    • Subtraction
    • Multiplication
    • Division
    • Percentage difference
  • Text
    • Star rating
    • Concatenated list of values

We anticipate adding to these calculations, and want to hear from you about which Quick measures you'd like to see, and if you have ideas (including underlying DAX formulas) for Quick measures that you'd like to submit for consideration. More on that at the end of this article.

Example of Quick measures

Let's take a look at an example of these Quick measures in action.

The following Matrix visual shows a table of sales for various electronics products. It's a basic table that includes the total for each category.

When we right-click the Values field well and select Quick measures, we can select Average within category as the Calculation, then select Sum of SalesAmount as the Base value, then specify SalesAmount by dragging that field from the Fields box on the right pane, into the Category section on the left.

When we select OK, we see a few interesting things occur, as shown in the image following this list:

  1. The Matrix visual now has a new column that shows our calculation (in this case, Average SalesAmount within SalesAmount).
  2. A new measure has been created and is available in the Fields well, and it's highlighted (Power BI puts a yellow box is around it). This measure is available to any other visual in the report, not just the visual for which it was originally created.
  3. The DAX formula that was created for the Quick measure is displayed in the Formula bar.

To start with the first item, notice that the Quick measure was applied to the visual. There's a new column and associated value, both of which are based on the Quick measure that was created.

Second, the Quick measure shows up in the Fields well of the data model, and can be used like any other field in the model, for any other visual. In the following image, a quick bar chart visual was created by using the new field created by the Quick measure.

Let's head to the next section to discuss that third item, DAX formulas.

Learn DAX using Quick measures

Another great advantage of the Quick measures feature is that it directly shows you the DAX formula that was created to implement the measure. In the following image, we've selected the measure that was created by the Quick measure (it's now in the Fields well, so we just have to click it). When we do so, the Formula bar appears, showing the DAX formula that Power BI created to implement the measure.

This is nice by itself, since it shows you the formula behind the measure. But more importantly, perhaps, it lets you use Quick measures to see how the underlying DAX formulas should be created.

Imagine you need to do a year-over-year calculation, but you're not quite sure how to structure the DAX formula (or, you have no idea where to start!). Instead of banging your head on the desk, you could create a Quick measure using the Year over year change calculation, and see what happens. As in, create the Quick measure and see how it appears in your visual, see how the DAX formula worked, then make changes either directly to the DAX, or create another measure, until the calculations meet your needs or expectations.

It's like having a quick teacher that immediately responds to your what-if questions by a few clicks. You can always delete those measures from your model if you don't like them - that's as easy as right-clicking the measure and selecting delete.

And once you do have the measure perfected, you can rename it however you'd like, using the same right-click menu.

Limitations and considerations

In this preview release of the Quick measures, there are a few limitations and considerations to keep in mind.

  • Quick measures are only available if you can modify the model, which isn't the case when you're working with DirectQuery or most Live connections (SSAS live connections are supported, as previously explained).
  • The measure that's added to the Fields well can be used with any visual in the report.
  • You can always see the DAX associated with a Quick measure by selecting the created measure in the Fields well, then looking at the formula in the Formula bar.

Warning: Quick measures currently only generate DAX statements with commas for argument separators. If your version of Power BI Desktop is localized to a language that uses commas as decimal separators, quick measures will not operate properly.

Time intelligence and Quick measures

Beginning with the October 2017 update to Power BI Desktop, you can use your own custom date tables with time intelligence Quick measures. If your data model has a custom date table, you can use the primary date column in that table for time intelligence quick measures. You must ensure that when the model was built, that primary date column in that table was marked as a Date table, as described in this article.

Additional information and examples

We anticipate providing examples and guidance for each of the Quick measures calculations, so please check back soon for updates on that focused article.

Since this is a Preview feature, we're especially interested in your feedback and your ideas.

Have an idea for a Quick measure that isn't already provided? Great! Check out this page and submit your ideas (and DAX formula) for the Quick measure you'd like to see in Power BI Desktop, and we'll consider adding it to the provided list of Quick measures in a future release.